Campaigning Against Deportation or Removal - No One Is Illegal

Campaigning Against Deportation or Removal - No One Is Illegal

No One Is Illegal

Campaigning Against

Deportation or Removal

Building An Anti-Deportation


A practical and political guide to

fighting to remain in this country


Campaigning Against Deportation or Removal

Building An Anti-Deportation Campaign

A practical and political guide to fighting to remain in this country

This leaflet has been produced by No-One Is Illegal - 16 Wood St, Bolton

BL1 1DY. We can be contacted at Further copies of this

and our other publications can be downloaded from the No One Is Illegal

website at © 2007

The photo on the front of this pamphlet shows No One Is Illegal in Toronto, Canada,

supporting the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” campaign. This is aimed at making city services

available to everyone irrespective of immigration status. In the UK, No One Is Illegal

raises within trade unions the slogan of “Defiance not Compliance” against the linking of

welfare entitlements to immigration status.

Layout and art work donated by Hak Mao:

Printed by Upstream

1 Warwick Court, Choumert Road, Peckham SE15 4SE

Tel: 020 7207 1560 Fax: 020 7277 8462

Email: Web:

Why you may need a campaign

You may need a campaign when the law is not enough to stop

deportation or removal. If the law was enough then you would not

be in the situation you are in now. A campaign means fighting back

politically. It means becoming active – not relying on a few emails or

standard letters or even a good legal represenative. It means organising

and working with other people. It means demonstrations and pickets.

Most of all it means publicity and going public.





There is never a guarantee that a campaign can succeed. There is never

a guarantee about winning anything in immigration law. All you can

do is fight.

However, many years of experience have shown that campaigns and

public support can put pressure on the Home Office and that cases can

be won in this way.

Not every case requires a campaign. Many cases can be won just

through proper legal representation. However, many cases cannot be

won just through the law. They cannot be won through just having a

good legal represenative. If they could then no-one would be deported.

Some cases may not appear at first sight suitable for a campaign – for

instance, some people may be afraid of publicity. However, it is always

essential to balance the fear of any publicity with the fear of eventual

deportation or removal.

Campaign activities that matter and campaign activities that can waste energy

The only point in a campaign is to stop the deportation or removal. So it

is important to do only things that put real pressure on the Home Office.

Political experience (and legal cases) has shown what may and what may

not be effective.






What may be effective is actual political action which involve more

and more people – meetings, demonstrations, pickets. And also hand

written personal letters.

What are far less effective are things which are not the product of

any real activity – such as standard computer-generated letters.

Handwritten letters are more effective. Every opportunity should be

used to get these, eg each meeting should include a time for everyone

to write something, however brief.

Petitions may be important, if signed in huge numbers, not only a few


A case (Makao v Secretary of State) in 2007 of the Asylum and

Immigration Tribunal made all this clear. This said:

“The panel has as indicated above considered a massive number of

representations received on behalf of the Appellant. These representations come

from the wide cross section of the Shetland community to which reference has

already been made. They are not merely substantial in number but so far as the

individually written letters are concerned, intense in their appreciation of the

problems faced by the Appellant and in their support for him. Representations

by petition are inevitably of a lesser effect but representations by action are also

important and those that have been manifested by, for example, the rally at the

Clickimin centre before the hearing of this appeal and the event at Brae High

School are further testament to the intensity with which this man's cause has

been supported by his own community"

Avoiding mistakes

There are some common mistakes that need to be avoided in order not to

waste time. For instance:


It is important to involve your Member of Parliament in your case.

What she or he can do is ensure better communication with the Home


Office and also, sometimes, help temporarily postpone any removal.

However your MP has no power to force the Home Office to let you

stay permanently. They do not make the decision about your case.

They cannot make the Home Office change its mind – only you and

the campaign can do this.


If the Home Office (and the courts) reject your case then your legal

representative will at some stage ask the Home Office to look at it

again. However there is no point in asking the Home Office simply

to look at evidence they have already rejected. You must provide new

evidence or a new interpretation of old evidence or a new angle on the

case altogether.

It is your decision whether or not to have a campaign

Not many people who come to this country expect to need a campaign to

remain here. However, many people who come here don’t expect to have

any immigration problems.

It is your decision and only your decision whether or not to set up a

campaign. It is also your decision about what happens in the campaign.

Everything the campaign does or attempts to do should be with your

agreement and consent.




Though it is your decision whether or not to have a campaign, in the

end you may have limited options. Many people would choose having

a campaign; if it decreases the chances of being put on a boat or plane

and being taken out of the country.

Some people who do not want publicity think they can have an

anonymous campaign – one which does not mention their name.

However unfortunately you cannot struggle in secret. You have to

decide one way or another – a campaign or not a campaign.

It is natural at first to think a campaign is strange and frightening.

However, the Home Office is very frightening and a campaign is there

to support you against the Home Office.


What a campaign means for your personal life

Campaigns are not easy. They require an enormous amount of energy on

your and everyone else’s part. The energy is required to build the campaign

activities and get other people to join in these activities.




You will have to be involved in all the activity of the campaign. You,

your family and your friends are central to any campaign. Unless you

are all active, then it will not grow.

You will almost certainly have to learn to speak openly or in public

about your case. No-one finds this easy at first.

You will, hopefully, be invited to speak at meetings not just in your

town but all over the country. It is important you do this so the

campaign can become a national and not just a local one.

Having a campaign can give you personal support

A campaign is there to help you win your case. However, it can also give

you tremendous personal support and strength. A campaign can help you

survive the pain and misery of the threat of deportation or removal.




You will not be the first person to have had a campaign! You will not

be the first person who thought that you don’t have the strength to get

involved in a campaign! And you won’t be the first person to realise

that the truth is just the opposite! It is the solidarity from the campaign

and from the campaign supporters which can give you the strength to

fight the Home Office.

You will also not be the first person who gets depressed at various

stages of a campaign. This is natural. However, the solidarity of the

people in the campaign will help you get over this.

You will gain many close friends through the campaign.


Getting support from people in your situation. Fighting together!

Perhaps the biggest source of support is meeting with and talking to other

people under threat of the immigration and asylum laws.




You could meet and discuss with other people who have had

campaigns and won. You can learn from their experiences.

You could also meet with other people who are presently having

campaigns against deportation or removal. There is strength in unity

and joining in with each other’s activities.

You could invite other anti-deportation campaigns, both locally and

nationally, to your events. You and your campaign could also join in

events organised by other campaigns. If you give other people support

then you will get support back.

Demand support – don’t beg for it! Solidarity not sympathy!

You are not to blame for the situation you are in. The fault is totally with

the Home Office and its immigration laws. Therefore do not feel ashamed!

None of this is your fault!





Because this situation is not your fault, then you and your campaign

should not beg for support. You should demand it!

Remember! Your campaign is asking people for support and solidarity.

It is not asking for pity or charity!

There is no need for the Campaign, or yourself, to publicise every

single detail of your case or your personal story.

The strongest campaigns are the ones that are most open politically

and which stress that the cause of every deportation and every removal

is the racist nature of immigration and asylum laws.


Don’t argue your case is exceptional. Don’t argue it is different. All cases

require solidarity

Of course all cases are different in the sense we all have different lives.

However everyone threatened by deportation is in exactly the same

position. They are all under attack from immigration controls.




Many campaigns try to argue that their case is “different” or “worse” or

“more desperate” than other cases. This is what the Home Office want

us to do! The Home Office wants campaigns to argue in public as to

who is more “exceptional” or more “worthy”. The Home Office wants

this because it leads to division and not unity.

The only point in giving out even limited personal details of a case to

the public is to show how cruel immigration controls are to everyone

under threat – not to show that any one case is worse than another.

However we show below that what a legal represenative argues in

private to the Home Office may be different. Legal represenatives must

use whatever grounds are necessary to help win cases.

Learning to become a political speaker!

Having a campaign means learning something you may not be used to

doing – speaking in public! At first this may seem difficult. However it

becomes easier each time you do it. Sometimes it is good fun!




Other people may help you prepare your speech. However remember it

is your speech, your life. You must say whatever you think best.

Some of the best speeches are the ones that are most political. These are

the ones – that demand and do not beg for support – that describe and

explain how the laws are racist – that make the audience understand

that there are thousands of other people in your situation – that

suggest ways of building your campaign.

And that are short! The longer you talk the less people listen!


Could a campaign harm your case?

The whole point of a campaign is to get the Home Office to allow you to

remain. However everything is a risk. So your campaign should constantly

discuss the legal and political implications of its actions.





Being under threat of removal or deportation is the worst situation you

could be in. A strong campaign could only make it better.

Campaigns are by definition political. However, immigration laws are

increasingly political. That is why campaigns are needed.

Small, inactive, indecisive campaigns can be counter-productive and

harmful by showing the Home Office you only have limited support.

Legal representatives who argue against all campaigns are wrong.

Making your campaign strong and powerful!

It is your campaign. Therefore nothing should be done without your






The golden advice is to think big in building the campaign and its

events. The Home Office is very powerful so the campaign needs

to be effective in order to stop the deportation or removal. Size


Remember - there is no use in having a weak campaign. There is no

use in limiting the campaign to small-scale activities. The real strength

of a campaign can be measured by the variety of its activities and the

number of people it attracts to it.

The campaign needs to get national and not just local support. So

successful campaigns often require a lot of travel in order to build


You should try for international support from people In other

countries, by asking people to write to the British Embassy in their

country & the Home Office in the United Kingdom.


When to start a campaign

You need to talk with your legal representative (if you have one), right at

the start of preparing your case, about when you might start a campaign.




It is no use waiting to start a campaign until after all the legal processes

have been completed. This is usually far too late to achieve victory.

Campaigns need to start as soon as possible – as soon as there is the

slightest possibility of deportation.

Delay is harmful. Time is crucial in fighting the Home Office.

Many people who are living and working in secret think there is no

point in having a campaign until they are caught by the Home Office

– and in the meantime they can carry on working and somehow hope

everything will be alright. This position is easy to understand. And

we would never suggest anyone had a campaign if they would rather

remain living in secret as long as possible. However the problem is

that it is impossible to live in secret for always. The British state is very

good at eventually detecting people. This is why it is all so frightening.

At the very least you need to speak with your legal represenative and

your friends about this. And you can always approach one of the

organisations listed in this pamphlet for advice.

Don’t let your campaign become inactive

There will be periods when the Home Office appears to be doing nothing

about your case. These times can often be very long. An example could

be where the Home Office has agreed to reconsider your case. Another

example could be where your case is being reconsidered by the courts. Yet

another very important example is when you may have been released from

detention but are still under threat of deportation.


This does not mean you or your campaign can relax and do nothing

during this time. In fact the Home Office is at its most dangerous in


these periods – as eventually a decision could be made against you and

the Home Office could swoop quickly and deport you. Campaigns

which become inactive during these periods put you in danger.



On the other hand if your campaign becomes less active or completely

inactive then experience shows the Home Office can use this to drag

out the case for years before a decision is made. Even if the decision is

to let you stay yet this is hardly a “victory” as you could have lost years

of your life through uncertainty.

Therefore these periods must be used to make your campaign even

stronger through continuing and increasing activities – forcing the

Home Office to come to a decision in your favour without delay.

Campaign written materials

All campaigns need basic materials. In particular:






Remember -all letters written to the Home Office should contain

your Home Office reference number, otherwise the Home Office will

not know they are about your case. Therefore the leaflet must contain

your reference number and supporters must be told to quote it in


Your campaign should produce a standard leaflet which explains in one

or two sentences your case and asks for support.

This leaflet may need to be translated into appropriate languages. It is

easiest if all languages are on the same leaflet.

Campaigns can last a long time. So you will need easy-to-print leaflets

– and lots of them. You have to make sure leaflets are always available

and you never run out of them.

The leaflet should ask people to write/type personal letters to the

Home Office supporting your case.







Campaigns cost money! A bank account may need to be opened in the

name of the campaign. The campaign leaflet and all campaign events

must contain an appeal for money. Fund-raising activities are a crucial

part of the campaign and can also be used to publicise the campaign.

It can also be useful to produce large-size posters which can be

displayed in buildings and on walls.

Using the internet and having a campaign website can also increase

publicity and keep supporters up to date with what is happening.

However the internet can never be a substitute for real activity.

Several campaigns have produced videos explaining the case, showing

activities and encouraging support. Maybe a local media group or

media students could help in this.

Remember – always include contact details, including the day ,

time and venue of the regular campaign meetings on all material so

that more people can find out how to join in the activities.

Getting the support of other organisations

As well as support from individuals you also need support from

organisations to circulate the campaign leaflet and petition. Organisations

should be asked to write to the Home Office. Organisations should also be

asked to circulate the campaign petition amongst their entire membership

and to send money to the campaign.




Letters asking for support should be sent to women’s, community

and all other groups and organisations.

In the campaign leaflet, you should ask organisations to invite a

speaker from the campaign to one of their meetings.

Your campaign leaflet could be updated sometimes to show a list of all

supporting organisations.


Support from the organisations of the undocumented

Campaigns against deportation are at their most powerful when they

gain the support of immigrant, migrant and refugee communities. These

are the communities of the “undocumented”. They are the communities

that are described in French as “sans papiers” – those without adequate

documents or papers. Anti-deportation campaigns at their best are the selforganisation

of these communities. Therefore:



Community groups and national groups of the undocumented need to

be invited to all campaign events.

The campaign needs to provide interpreters for its events.

Trade union support

Trade union support is important because trade unions have a large

membership. They are the largest organisations in the country. Also trade

unions are supposed to be opposed to racism.





Support from as many unions as possible should be sought at local,

regional and national levels.

Support could also be sought from trades councils – which are the

combined bodies of unions locally.

It is useful for the campaign to draw up and circulate a model

resolution for use with trade unions. Remember the resolution

should not plead for help but should instead demand solidarity – and

solidarity not just with your case but with all those threatened by


Once any part of a trade union organisation supports the campaign,

it should be asked to circulate the campaign material and seek union

support at other levels.





If you yourself are a member of a trade union, then the campaign

should aim eventually to get your union to support you at a national

level. Your union should then try and ensure that other unions, and

the Trades Union Congress support your case.

If you are not already a member of a union then join one! Many

unions today are actively seeking to recruit the undocumented. The

quicker you join a union the better. The longer you leave it makes it

appear you are only joining because you need its help. The main point

in joining a union is to get its political support and through that the

political support of other unions. Unfortunately unions offer very little

legal help in respect to deportation. But nonetheless once you are a

member the campaign should push the union into offering legal as well

as political help.

It is very helpful to get your union branch or the union itself and

other unions to produce their own leaflet or poster in support of your

case. This will have more effect within the union than your campaign’s

publicity. It is very easy for a union to do this. It can simply reproduce

your campaign leaflet on paper with their own name and address at the


Support from children and their schools

Children are often the most vulnerable to immigration controls. Their fears

and their wishes must be respected. However children and their schools

have often been the most active in fighting deportations and winning

cases. For instance



In many cases schools have acted as a community – of children,

teachers, governors, parents – in defending pupils under threat of

deportations or removal.

The production of some campaign material can be good fun for

children – such as making badges and banners.


Public activities

As well as written material it could be important to have large public

activities. Activities should be well organised with publicity in appropriate

languages starting well beforehand. If the publicity comes out too late,

then the event will only be small. Typical activities are:






Public meetings.

Street meetings to publicise the case and collect money.

Demonstrations – you should try and attract both local community

support and national support for all demonstrations.

Social events.

Pickets of the immigration appeal hearing.

Gaining publicity






Have a campaign banner and always remember to take it to all


It is not easy to get publicity from newspapers, television or radio.

As well as other public activities, the campaign could therefore think of

unusual activities which could attract publicity.

For instance, where children are under threat of deportation, their

school could organise a public event involving all the children at the

school and their parents – such as going to London to present the

petition. Hands around the school events often achieve coverage in the


Remember to always alert the local media at least 48 hours before

any event and aim to have a named contact.


The campaign group

Experience has shown that for a campaign to work, there has to be a strong

campaign group which organises all activities. The group is where decisions

are discussed and made, and where tasks shared out. The group is also

where you can make sure that your instructions are put into practice.








The group should meet regularly (preferably weekly) at the same place,

on the same day, and at the same time.

If meetings are not held regularly, then people may not remember the

dates and therefore won’t come.

In a successful campaign the organising group should get bigger by

attracting new supporters. The campaign should all the time encourage

this. Any organisation that supports the campaign should be asked

to ensure at least one of its members acts as a link to the campaign,

possibly by attending the campaign group.

Meetings should be as open to all supporters and be as easy to attend

as possible. Therefore make sure you meet in a place which is very easy

to find.

Don’t meet in a place where some people may feel offended to come –

for instance places where there is alcohol.

The place, date and time of group meetings should be given in the

campaign leaflets.

Strong campaign groups have certain roles and must ensure there are

people who will fulfil these, throughout the campaign. These include

responsibilities for money, for preparing and conducting the regular

campaign meetings, for chairing these meetings for taking minutes, for

replying to letters, for publicising campaign activities, for making sure

letters of support are written and so on.


Group meetings

The only point for a campaign to exist is in order to win. Therefore:


Remember – group meetings are a place to plan activities, not just to

talk! The weakest campaigns are the ones that talk a lot and do little.

The strongest campaigns are the ones that talk little and do a lot!


Remember – there is no point in making decisions which are not

carried out! Whoever agrees to do tasks must come to the next meeting

to explain whether the tasks have been done or send an update.

Minutes of decisions should be taken at all meetings and circulated

well before the next meeting.

Using your legal representative

It is very difficult to find competent and experienced legal represenatives

who understand not only the law but also the timing and effect of different

tactics. Do not trust legal represenatives (or community leaders) who

promise you everything is easy and they will sort it all out. Nothing in

immigration law is easy.





Some of the best legal representatives are not fully qualified lawyers.

It is essential your legal represenative is in touch regularly with

the campaign so everyone can make sure that the legal and the

campaigning sides of the case are working together and going in the

same direction.

The legal representative needs to be able to provide (however

approximately) some indication of how much longer you have to

remain in the country before the Home Office tries to deport or

remove you. Unless you know this then the campaign will be unclear

what to do. You may be liable to detention and/or removal at any time

and the campaign needs to be prepared.

If possible the legal representative should be clear from the start about

the processes of the case and the likely prospects of legal success.


If you don’t have a legal representative

You may not have a legal represenative because none may be available, or

else you may not be granted any, or any further, legal aid money.




Your campaign must look at the reasons why you have no legal

representation and decide what to do.

One thing your campaign may decide to do, is to challenge,

through publicity and picketing, the local office of the Legal Services

Commission, for refusing financial help.

Campaigns also need sometimes to consider fund-raising initiatives to

pay for a legal represenative – at least until the time when legal aid may

be granted.


Remember – trade union members are usually entitled to some

form of legal help from their union though as explained above this is

normally very little in immigration cases. However put pressure on

your union to help!

Preparing the legal case

If you are under threat of deportation it is absolutely essential you at all

times understand your legal case and whatever stage it has reached. Unless

you understand this then you will not be able to contribute to your own

case. You cannot simply leave it to your legal representative without him or

her explaining it to you. Otherwise you will just get confused.



Your legal representative and your campaign must work closely

together.However, the legal case and the campaign are not the same


The campaign is a political struggle to remain. Experience shows that


the more political is a campaign then the more support it will obtain.

The legal case also needs to have a clear political understanding of the

politics of the Home Office. However it is an attempt to use the law, or

at least legal mechanisms, to stay. The legal case normally (apart from

appeals) takes place in private. The campaign takes place in public.




The public campaign should fight the case politically. It should avoid

arguing compassionate grounds. The legal case should in private use

whatever arguments it takes to win – including compassionate grounds.

Where appeals are heard in public legal represenatives should be careful not

to argue other cases are “less worthy”.

The legal case has to be handled professionally. All professional

communication with the Home Office should always go through the

legal representative and never through the campaign.

The Campaign should discuss separately when, where and how

personal letters and petitions are handed in.

Professional reports

The legal representative should always, where appropriate, think about

obtaining reports from other professionals such as health workers, social

workers or teachers. It is insufficient simply to assert a case to the Home

Office. It has to be proven and often the proof can be in professional





Where someone is ill or has experienced torture, medical & other

professional reports will be required.

For instance where children are under threat of deportation it is best

practice to provide both professional local authority social services and

educational reports to the Home Office. This is in addition to personal

letters of support from the school and its teachers.

Your legal representative needs to arrange these reports and to explain

in detail what factors need to be examined in them. The harm caused

by removal must be shown to be drastic and not just minimal.


Fighting from detention or the airport




This pamphlet has been written to help everyone under threat of

deportation – including people in detention.

In fact if you are in detention you are even more in need of a

campaign. Of course because you are in detention you will not be able

to get involved in the day to day activities of your campaign. However

you may be able to win the support of others in detention and fight

collectively from inside the detention centre. People in detention

centres have often demonstrated or gone on hunger strike together and

written letters to the press.

Even if you are taken to an airport for removal there is still the

possibility of resisting – for instance by creating such a fuss through

shouting or stripping that the pilot refuses to fly the plane.


Useful contacts

(1) Political support and advice on how to set up an anti-deportation

campaign group

No One Is Illegal. This is the group that has produced this leaflet. We can

be contacted at or at 16 Wood St,Bolton,BL1 1DY

No Borders groups. No Borders groups have been formed in various

cities. They exist in order to oppose immigration controls and fight for

those in detention or under threat of deportation. The best central contact


The Unity Centre. This is based in Scotland at theunitycentre@btconnect.


Asylum Voice - Voice of the Undocumented. This is based in Liverpool at

North West Asylum Seekers Defence Group. This is based in Manchester


Asirt. This is based in Birmingham at

Barbed Wire Britain. This is a network of groups supporting those in

detention at

Crossroads Womens Centre. This is based in London at centre@

National Coalition of Anti-Deportation Campaigns. This can be

contacted at

(2) Free and expert legal advice agencies

There are some specialist agencies offering free advice and representation


on all immigration, nationality and asylum matters.

Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit (0161 740 7722).

Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants based in London (020 7251


Asylum Aid in London also provides legal help in asylum cases (020 7354


Most community law centres provide advice and representation on

immigration, nationality and asylum issues (or else can recommend

another agency which does). The central telephone number for law centres

is the Law Centre Federation on 020-7387-8570 and email is info@ They will tell you your local centre.

There also exists Bail for Immigration Detainees (BID). BID is

an independent agency which works with all those detained under

immigration laws to secure their release from prisons or removal centres.

There are 3 offices; London (020 7247 3590), Portsmouth – for Haslar

centre (023 9258 7567), Oxford – for Campsfield centre (0845 330


In addition to the above the government has established two agencies to

offer help. These are:

Refugee Legal Centre. This is based in London but may take on cases

nationally (020 7780 3200)

Immigration Advisory Service. This deals with non-asylum cases. It has

several offices – Birmingham (0121 616 3540), Cardiff (02920 496662),

Glasgow (0141 248 2956), Hounslow (020 8814 1115), Leeds (0113

244 2460), Liverpool (0151 242 0920 ), London (020 7357 6917),

Manchester (0161 834 9942).


(3) Private law firms

There are some (very few) private solicitors who are good and can be

trusted. NEVER seek help from a private solicitor without checking if they

are genuine and if they are really lawyers or trained legal represenatives.

You can ask two of the above organisations – Joint Council for the Welfare

of Immigrants or Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit. You can also

ask the Immigration Law Practitioners Association. This is not an advice

agency but the organisation of immigration legal represenatives. The

telephone number is 0207 251 8383.



Campaigning Against Deportation or Removal

Building An Anti-Deportation Campaign

A practical and political guide to

fighting to remain in this country

This leaflet has been sponsored by the following trade union bodies:

Greater Manchester Association of Trades Councils

Oldham Trades Council

GMB Southern Region


Manchester Community and Mental Health UNISON

Brighton UNISON

TGWU 6/389

TGWU 5/445

NUT Bolton

RMT Finsbury Park

GMB(International Union Sex Workers branch)

Liverpool Trades Council

It is being supported by Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit and the

Sukula Family Must Stay Campaign. We wish to thank the Immigration

Law Practitioners Association, Garden Court Chambers and all the trade

union bodies that helped finance the pamphlet.

This leaflet has been produced by No-One Is Illegal - 16 Wood St, Bolton

BL1 1DY. We can be contacted at Further copies of this

and our other publications can be downloaded from the No One Is Illegal

website at © 2007

Price - free to the undocumented otherwise by donation

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